Pigot Clinches Cooper Tires Winterfest Title with Clean Sweep at PBIR
Rising American star Spencer Pigot swept all three races this weekend at Palm Beach International Raceway to emerge a clear winner of the Cooper Tires Winterfest Championship. The 18-year-old from Orlando, Fla., won Round Five this morning in style, taking the checkered flag 5.116 seconds clear of Cape Motorsports with Wayne Taylor Racing teammate Trent Hindman, but had a much tougher time in this afternoon’s final race as he was forced to fend off a determined challenge from the third Cape Motorsports entry, driven by Matthew Brabham.
Pigot had a helping hand this morning when Neil Alberico (JDC Motorsports) snuck past Hindman into Turn One to claim second place. After a full-course caution to remove the stalled car of Michael Johnson (#54 Universal Coating/Coloplast/FlatOutNation.com/Red Line Oil), Pigot, who had started from the pole, took off at the restart and was never seriously threatened.
Hindman found a way past Alberico soon afterward, then pulled away to cement his runner-up position. Worse was to follow for Alberico as he came under intense pressure from Andretti Autosport teammates Shelby Blackstock and Thomas McGregor, both of whom managed to find a way past by Lap 15, leaving Alberico to fend off Australian-born Roman Lagudi in Belardi Auto Racing’s #4 Champion Stone/Tool and Supply/High Performance Distributors Van Diemen-Mazda. Blackstock held on to third to claim his first podium finish in the Winterfest Championship.
The sixth and final Winterfest race began in familiar style as Pigot leapt directly into the lead from the pole. He was unable to hammer home his advantage, however, due to a pair of lengthy caution periods caused by heavy accidents that befell both Lagudi and Jason Wolfe, in the #23 Wolfe Trucking, Inc./JAY Motorsports/ProMotion Driver Development entry.
|Winner Spencer Spigot (Center) is flanked by 2nd place Matthew Brabham (Left) and 3rd place Trent Hindman (right)|
Brabham, who had dropped out of this morning’s race with a gearbox problem, lost a place to Blackstock on the initial start, but repassed the Nashville, Tenn., native on the first restart, then out-braked Hindman for second place into Turn One at the final restart.
Brabham pressured Pigot as hard as he could over the remaining three laps but was unable to find any chinks in Pigot’s defensive armor, so had to settle for second place. Pigot also snared the bonus point for fastest race lap to secure a maximum 99-point haul from the weekend.
Hindman ensured another 1-2-3 sweep for Cape Motorsports with Wayne Taylor Racing, while Blackstock drove another strong race to take fourth ahead of the JDC MotorSports duo of Alberico and Scott Hargrove.
Hindman secured second place in the Winterfest by a five-point margin over Brabham, 140-135, and Blackstock finished fourth on 103 points. Pigot’s winning tally was 187.
James Dayson, from Vancouver, B.C., Canada, took the National Class spoils this morning in the #12 Jensen MotorSport Van Diemen, and even though he was unable to start this afternoon’s race due to a starter motor failure, he had already done enough to clinch the Winterfest National Class title.
The season-long Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship Powered by Mazda will commence with two races in support of the 60th Annual Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring Fueled by Fresh from Florida at Sebring International Raceway on March 15-16.
Spencer Pigot, #2 Team Pelfrey/E-merging Technologies/Parathyroid.com/California Scents/Mazda/Cooper Tires: “It was a great week here at West Palm winning all three races plus the other two back in Sebring. It is a great way to start the season off with a lot of momentum and confidence going into the first race of the regular season in a few weeks. It hasn’t been easy for sure even though we have been able to win a lot of races. With all the competition, there are a lot of really good drivers. We were able to put everything together when it mattered most. It has been a good few weeks with the team and I think we are just going to keep getting better and better.”
Trent Hindman, #3 Premier Woodcraft/Zydro+/DFL Construction/RaceLite Protection/Skip Barber Racing School/Sparco: “Winterfest went really well for us. Cape as a whole really, really did well and we figured out a lot of things for Sebring in March and the start of our season. The last race was a little bit disappointing in being so close and not being able to get the win, but Spencer and Matt drove great races. It was a really good fight. I have to say a huge thanks to everyone at Cape Motorsports, without them I don’t want to think where I would be to be honest. It has been great these last six races and, hopefully, this trend continues long into the future.”
Matthew Brabham, #83 DTE Group/Ace Kangan Institute/Repco/Aviation Components/Australia Wide: “This has been fantastic. I had a lot of fun and got some really, really good experience before the actual start of the season, which is the most important thing – learning about the racing. I have never had that before in any series I’ve competed. It was a good little test to see where our cars are on race pace, and it was good for myself having never done rolling starts. I still need to work on those a little bit, but it was great getting the restarts with the safety car and just learning how drivers race over here. There were highs and a few lows as well which was not good at the time but definitely character building and I gained a bit of experience on how to get out of those situations and pass a lot of cars while starting from the back. I am pleased with how everything went.”
James Dayson, #12 Dayson Racing: “I am really glad I came out to the Winterfest and gained all that value of knowing what to do and also to calm the nerves a bit because they were pretty strong the night before the first race. I am proud of myself. I want to just keep improving each time. We did a good job of getting the car together but, unfortunately, we had a mechanical in the final race today. It was the worst possible time – right before we were rolling out – but I have thoroughly enjoyed this experience and look forward to the upcoming season. Thanks to everyone who put this together – USF2000, Mazda and Cooper Tires.”